Chinese regulators assess apps, order firms to improve data security

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/22 19:33:39

Hundreds of apps ordered to improve data security

The app of Zao Photo: VCG

The Office of Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC) has assessed about 600 mobile apps and more than 200 have been ordered to improve data security, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Experts warned that users should be cautious over personal data authorization on their mobile apps, and regulations on extralegal collection of user information should be rolled out soon.

The number of Chinese internet users surged from 620,000 in 1997 to 830 million in 2018. A recent report showed that 37.4 percent of internet users believe that personal information leakage is rife online, and 58.7 percent of internet users said they have experienced such violations.

Yun Fei, an engineer at Hangzhou-based cloud service provider Upyun, told the Global Times that the abuse of personal information on apps could lead to serious fraud online. He suggested that facial recognition should not be used except by services that need high-level authorization such as financial service apps.

Online user privacy has been under public scrutiny recently. Earlier this month, a face-changing app called ZAO triggered widespread criticism on Chinese social media after some of the terms in its user agreement allowed the app to store, use and even transfer the data of its users for free.

The CAC and other Chinese agencies will hold a campaign to raise public awareness of cyber security from Monday to Sunday in North China's Tianjin Municipality. The campaign has been held annually since 2014. Yang Chunyan, an official with the CAC, said during this year's campaign that some regulations and policies relating to user privacy protection on mobile apps have been rolled out, and a platform for reporting any personal data infringement has been developed. 

Li Wei, director of the science and technology department of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, also noted during the campaign that regulations covering user privacy are imperative to ensure a healthy financial services industry with the development of fintech. 

There are more than 200 app stores in China with nearly 5 million apps available for download, according to a report by While these apps are ready to be downloaded, they have become "funnels" for the disclosure of personal information. 

Compulsory authorization, excessive cable authorization, and excessive collection of personal information, including mobile phone numbers, address books, call records and text messages are most the common channels of personal privacy leakage, Yun said. 

Newspaper headline: Internet needs better user privacy: regulator

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